Sgurr Beag, Sgurr Mor, Sgurr an Fhuarain
Tuesday 2nd July 2013
Weather/Conditions: Relentlessly drizzly, damp and cloudy all day. Hardly got a view beyond Sgurr na Ciche. Got some brief impressive views around Sgurr Beag (couldn't be bothered taking the camera out!) but only popped out mist again beyond Sgurr an Fhuarain. Cue an evening dull, drizzly walk out to the road in failing light.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 30.1km / 2450m / 14h
This day was the huge range of peaks south of Loch Quoich, from Sgurr na Ciche in the west, to Gairich in the east. (Which ultimately we missed out)
We began the plod to Sgurr na Ciche in warm, close air, with rain pattering down. It was a hard day from the outset, with tension in the air you could sense but didn't want to disturb. The previous day had been really tough, and this one promised to be harder.
Sgurr na Ciche was a long plod up from Sourlies, a mountain that is rough, huge and a little out-of-this-world. It was a shame that the mist was down once we got to the top, otherwise the view from here would probably be incredible. Doug and I began the huge walk back to the Loch Quoich dam, a walk which really turned out to be enormous.
The hills themselves didn't that distinct. They'd be great if you got the weather, I'm sure, but in the mist, we would just climb one mountain, and descend, and climb the next and descend. I enjoyed the compass work, but in reality the day was a long plod in the mist, and rain, and wind. I was trying not to get cold, trying to put the huge route ahead out of my head.
The crazy thing about today's huge route was that we really had no escape routes. Any retreat out to Loch Quoich or Loch Arkaig wouldn't really be an escape at all. The logistics of getting back to the dam, and ultimately back on schedule, would be as great as just putting the head down and plodding on now. If anything did work in our favour, it was that the winds weren't too ferocious, and that the rain was never too heavy. Even so, the rain fell without pause all day, soaking us through and making it a simple physical and mental challenge.
The Munros Garbh Chioch Mor, Sgurr nan Coireachan and Sgurr Mor were done this way, and after Sgurr an Fhuarain (not a Munro), we dipped out of cloud and the final Munro Gairich was ahead. Given that it was already getting dark, this was a problem. The dam is on the far side of Gairich, but if we were to climb it today, we'd be on top in the dark, pushing a pace so slow we wouldn't be off the hills until the next morning.
There didn't seem to be much alternative. We finally decided on getting around Gairich via. a track on the south side, and still ended up plodding back to the dam into the following day - we arrived back at 1am, completely shattered, with a tent (stashed) to put up, and curries (also stashed) to cook. We didn't fall asleep for another hour; the end of a mental day, one of the hardest and most memorable of the walk.
(0.00) 11.00am Sourlies
(3.00) 2.00pm Sgurr na Ciche
(4.00) 3.00pm Garbh Chioch Mhor
(5.40) 4.40pm Sgurr nan Coireachan
(8.15) 7.15pm Sgurr Mor
(9.30) 8.30pm Sgurr an Fhuarain
(14.00) 1.00am Quoich dam